There are many professions that don’t get enough recognition in mainstream media, yet they are crucial to the functioning of everyday life. For instance, a plumber is trained to install and maintain piping for our water supplies, sewage systems, and heating/cooling systems. Plumbing is a highly specialized and respectable field that requires technical aptitude, creativity, and problem-solving skills. Although typically dominated by men, there’s absolutely no reason for women to hesitate about pursuing a career in plumbing.
Judaline Cassidy from Trinidad was the first female plumber to be accepted into the Staten Island Plumbers Union 371, and she launched a nonprofit organization called Tools & Tiaras to encourage other young women to get involved in trade professions. Judaline recently shared her remarkable story in the MAKERS video.
We caught up with Judaline to learn more about what’s involved in a plumbing career, how she combats negativity in the workforce, and the supportive community in which she has gained membership.
Smart Girls: In the MAKERS video, you describe plumbing as solving a puzzle. Can you elaborate on that?
Judaline Cassidy: In plumbing, we use a lot of blueprints which gives us a clear understanding of the work that needs to be done. Blueprints are our maps, and you have to interpret the map to fit all the components together. Much like a puzzle, a blueprint helps you connect the pieces that ultimately lead to a functioning plumbing system. I appreciate this process because it enables me to use my brain and make something work.
SG: Can you tell us about Tools & Tiaras and the work you’re doing to inspire girls to pursue technical trades?
JC: At Tools & Tiaras, our goal is to expose, inspire and mentor future warrior tradeswomen about the highly lucrative and rewarding careers available in the construction industry. Our main goal and what we’re working toward is to have a summer camp next year in New York for girls ages 6–19, where they can get hands-on training in plumbing, electrical, carpentry and auto mechanics. We’re currently surveying properties and colleges where this will likely take place, and we’re looking into funding opportunities so we can open a year-round facility for our more regular workshops.
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